domineering; dictatorial; haughtily or rudely arrogant.
of overwhelming or critical importance.

Origin of overbearing

First recorded in 1590–1600; overbear + -ing2
Related formso·ver·bear·ing·ly, adverbo·ver·bear·ing·ness, noun



verb (used with object), o·ver·bore, o·ver·borne, o·ver·bear·ing.

to bear over or down by weight or force: With his superior strength he easily overbore his opponent in the fight.
to overcome or overwhelm: A spirited defense had overborne the enemy attack.
to prevail over or overrule (wishes, objections, etc.): She overbore all objections to the new plan.
to treat in a domineering way; dominate: to overbear one's children with threats of violence.
Nautical. (of a sailing ship) to have the advantage of (another sailing ship) because of an ability to carry more canvas safely.

verb (used without object), o·ver·bore, o·ver·borne, o·ver·bear·ing.

to produce fruit or progeny so abundantly as to impair the health.

Origin of overbear

First recorded in 1525–35; over- + bear1
Related formso·ver·bear·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for overbearing

Contemporary Examples of overbearing

Historical Examples of overbearing

  • We never could get along together at all, because he is so high-strung and overbearing.

    The Little Colonel

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • There was something so ruthless in the boy, so overbearing and heartless.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • That was because he found his overbearing tactics did not work.

  • His manner, where he wished to conciliate, was pleasing; but to me it was overbearing and unpleasant.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • He was brutal and overbearing with the workmen, but humble in the presence of his superiors.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

British Dictionary definitions for overbearing



domineering or dictatorial in manner or action
of particular or overriding importance or significance
Derived Formsoverbearingly, adverb


verb -bears, -bearing, -bore or -borne

(tr) to dominate or overcometo overbear objections
(tr) to press or bear down with weight or physical force
to produce or bear (fruit, progeny, etc) excessively
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for overbearing

figurative present participle adjective from overbear (v.) in its sense "to bear down."



late 14c., "to carry over," from over- + bear (v.). Meaning "to bear down by weight of physical force" is from 1535 (in Coverdale), originally nautical, of an overwhelming wind; figurative sense of "to overcome and repress by power, authority, etc." is from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper